The Queen has tested positive for Covid-19, ahead of the expected ending of all coronavirus restrictions in England in the coming days.
Buckingham Palace said the monarch, 95, was experiencing “mild cold-like symptoms” but expected to continue carrying out light duties this week.
It was confirmed she had been in direct contact with her eldest son and heir, the Prince of Wales, the week he had the virus, while a number of cases have also been reported at her Windsor Castle home.
The announcement on Sunday was made only a few weeks after the Queen, who will be 96 in April, reached her platinum jubilee of 70 years on the throne on 6 February.
The prime minister, Boris Johnson, had been speaking earlier in the day about moves to lift Covid-19 restrictions and said: “Now is the moment for everybody to get their confidence back.”
He later tweeted: “I’m sure I speak for everyone in wishing Her Majesty the Queen a swift recovery from Covid and a rapid return to vibrant good health.”
Earlier, wishes for a speedy recovery by the Queen were expressed by ministers and figures including the Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, who tweeted: “On behalf of myself and the whole of @UKLabour, wishing Her Majesty the Queen good health and a speedy recovery. Get well soon, Ma’am.”
Others posting messages wishing the Queen well included Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization, the prime ministers of Barbados and Israel and the president of Kosovo, along with public representatives from Commonwealth countries.
A statement released by Buckingham Palace confirmed that the Queen had tested positive on Sunday. It added: “Her Majesty is experiencing mild cold-like symptoms but expects to continue light duties at Windsor over the coming week.
“She will continue to receive medical attention and will follow all the appropriate guidelines.”
The Queen was nevertheless well enough to send a message of congratulations to the British women’s curling team for an “outstanding performance” that yielded a gold medal at the Beijing Winter Olympics, though it is not known if she had tested positive at the time the words were signed off.
The message was posted from the royal family Twitter account, with the monarch offering the winning curlers her “warmest congratulations” after their 10-3 final victory over Japan.
“I know that your local communities and people throughout the United Kingdom will join me in sending our good wishes to you, your coaches and the friends and family who have supported you in your great success,” she said.
While following Covid guidelines on self-isolating after testing positive, it is also likely that the Queen will be working on her red boxes, which are sent to her every day and contain policy papers, Foreign Office telegrams, letters and other state papers from government ministers and Commonwealth representatives. They have to be read and, where necessary, approved and signed.
The Queen carried out a number of official engagements virtually during the week after concerns that she may have been at risk of contracting the virus.
She was pictured on Tuesday greeting the Estonian ambassador, who spoke to her via video link from Buckingham Palace. She also received the Spanish ambassador over video link.
Her first major public engagement for more than three months was held on Saturday 5 February, the eve of her jubilee, when she met charity workers at Sandringham House, cut a celebratory cake and used a walking stick to rest on.
The Queen is understood to be triple-vaccinated, but she had been on doctors’ orders to rest since mid October, after cancelling a run of engagements and spending a night in hospital undergoing preliminary tests.
She is believed to have spent time with Charles on Tuesday 8 February, when he hosted an investiture at Windsor Castle. A few days later he tested positive for Covid, the second time on which he is believed to have contracted the virus, but he made a quick recovery to full health.
The Duchess of Cornwall has also tested positive for Covid, with Clarence House confirming last Monday that the duchess was self-isolating.
The royal household has its own physicians and the Queen’s doctors will be on hand to take care of and monitor the head of state, with Prof Sir Huw Thomas, the head of the medical household and physician to the Queen, expected to be in charge.
The Queen’s positive test comes just under four months before a celebratory weekend, in the first week in June, that forms part of plans to mark her 70 years on the throne. While it has been unclear which events she will take part in, most of the jubilee duties were already likely to be given to other members of her family.